"Hi GM Joel, My son is 8-year-old with a rating of 1600. He consistently beats lower rated players simply because he waits until his opponent blunders. He often lost to higher rated players because they don't blunder and his positions are getting worse and worse. Based on the feedback I have, including from his coach, a local IM, he often doesn't have a plan and sometimes he makes mistakes in the opening. He reacts to his opponents' moves, even when playing White."
To read the response by 3-time US Champion GM Joel Benjamin (see photo), go to Chess Life Online. This article should be interesting and relevant for many families in the Bay Area and around the country. Frankly, I must add that I completely agree with the advice from GM Benjamin. Here are a few key quotes:
"Ratings improve because children develop certain skills that are strong enough to defeat players at certain levels, but it doesn’t mean that all their skills have reached that level."
"To me, improvement is a long-term, ongoing process, that doesn’t necessarily manifest itself in wins in the next tournament."
"Every player is competing against the game, to unlock its secrets and become stronger. What other people (families) are doing—and what their ratings are--should not affect your own approach."
You may also wish to browse through other tidbits of advice that I have blogged about over the past year and a half, including my suggestion for how much to practice and appropriate parental behavior at tournaments.